For the past decade, activist groups have been spreading the news about the so-called ‘right to die’ and, according to the latest statistics, their efforts have been a success.
Our lead on the world stage of death is a rather dubious distinction, but it becomes even more concerning against the backdrop of Canada’s low-performing health-care system.
Case in point: A suicidal woman seeking help at a Vancouver hospital came head-to-head with bare-bones health care and a fatalistic clinician.
When Mentler stated that she had previously attempted to overdose on medication, the clinician (not a psychiatrist) asked if she had considered medical assistance in dying (MAID)—as it would be a more “comfortable” process. Rather than help Mentler overcome her suicidal thoughts, the clinician explained in detail the various steps in the MAID process.
By then, the message was clear—peace of mind is easily achievable … through death.
Mentler left VGH shortly after, and woke up the next morning wanting to “scream and cry.” Instead, her friends encouraged her to go public with her story and she lodged an official complaint.
This story is concerning on several levels.
MAID will almost certainly soon include those who may not have an accurate assessment of themselves, their situation, or the world around them. Obviously, this leaves them particularly vulnerable and increasingly susceptible to the distorted view that an easy death offers more dignity than a difficult life.
Fortunately, in the present situation, Mentler was able to see the discussion for what it was—inappropriate and unhelpful.
Secondly, this situation offers a look at the intersection of MAID and a health-care system that is on life support. Mentler was told there were no beds available—even though she wanted one to keep her safe through the night. They apparently offered to call a psychiatrist, but it isn’t clear that she ever saw one.